(NaturalNews) Did you know that osteoporosis affects men as well as women? While nearly 8 million women in the United States are currently diagnosed with osteoporosis, an additional 2 million men suffer from the disease as well. The good news is that there are many things that you can do to both lower your risk for developing the disease and minimize the bone damage if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. I've put together a list of 6 great steps that I recommend to everyone, men and women alike, so that your bones will remain healthy and strong for the rest of your life.
1. Educate Yourself - If you know the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis, diagnoses and treatments can begin to slow down or stop the disease before it progresses too far.
Osteoporosis literally translates to "porous bones" and occurs when bone density deteriorates to the point that the bones are no longer strong enough to support the body. The early stages of osteoporosis are generally unaccompanied by pain or symptoms and a fractured bone is typically the first sign of a problem. The most common fractures associated with osteoporosis occur in the spine, hips and wrists. As the bones increasingly weaken, back pain, loss of height and a stooped posture can occur.
Beginning in early childhood, our bones go through a continual cycle of remodeling, generating new bone and breaking down old bone. Up until our mid-thirties, the body generates new bone faster than it can break down old bone, subsequently increasing bone mass. However, as we move into our forties, the remodeling process slows down and we begin to lose more bone than the body is able to generate. Regular exercise and adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are all key to maintaining strong bones throughout our lifetime. Without these important nutrients, bones may never reach their full density and will only become more porous with age.
2. Get Tested - Testing for osteoporosis is simple, painless and non-invasive.
Doctors can detect early signs of osteoporosis using a variety of devices to measure bone density. The best screening test is called dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), which allows your physician to measure the density of bones in your spine, hip and wrist (the areas most likely to be affected by osteoporosis) and to accurately follow changes in these bones over time. Ultrasound and quantitative CT scanning are also effective tests that can accurately measure bone density.
3. Explore the Estrogen Connection - While the estrogen link to osteoporosis is significant for women, it plays an important role in the skeletal health of men as well.
Women have generally been associated with osteoporosis due to its direct link to menopause. Estrogen is important to maintaining bone density, but as women enter menopause, estrogen levels drop significantly triggering an increase in bone loss of about 1% to 3% each year. Around the age of 60, a woman's bone loss slows down, but does not stop completely. As women reach their later years, they may lose between 35% and 50% of their total bone mass.
In men, the male hormone testosterone is, in part, converted to estrogen and serves the important function of maintaining bone density. As men age, their testosterone levels, and subsequently their estrogen levels, decline. Some researchers speculate that this loss in testosterone could be as severe as a woman's loss of estrogen during menopause.
For both men and women suffering from osteoporosis caused by hormonal imbalance, natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be the answer. Because HRT is not without risk, work closely with your doctor to determine the best hormone levels for you. Periodically, your doctor will monitor your hormone levels to ensure that you are taking the smallest dose needed to correct the problem. Research has shown that HRT can make a great impact on bone density and is the best known way to prevent osteoporosis.
4. Regain pH Balance - An imbalanced pH within the body can lead to calcium loss in the bones and be a major contributing factor to osteoporosis.
Stress, lack of physical activity, environmental pollutants and a diet high in acid-producing foods collectively create the problem of acidosis. The body needs to be in a slightly alkaline state in order to function optimally. With acidosis, the body seeks to correct the overly acidic state by drawing alkalizing minerals such as calcium from the bones. Over time, this severe loss of calcium can have a major impact on your bone density and osteoporosis can ensue.
The most effective way to reduce acids within the body is by enacting dietary changes. A proper diet should be comprised of 60-80% alkalizing foods and 40-20% acid-forming foods. The standard American diet is mostly made up of acid-forming foods including coffee, tea, wine and most proteins (with the exception of milk, butter, soft cheese and almonds) as well as most fats, cereals and sugars. On the other hand, almost all fruits and vegetables (except for tomatoes, cranberries and blueberries) are alkalizing.
Dietary supplements can also be very effective at restoring an alkaline state within the body. Calcium, magnesium, potassium and pH balancing supplements (such as perfectlyhealthy pH Plus™) all help to maintain a slightly alkaline state.
5. Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle - A healthy lifestyle is key to optimal bone health. Poor habits such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise can all reduce bone formation by interfering with the bone's ability to properly absorb calcium.
Regular exercise is necessary to building strong bones. Those with the most physically active lifestyles tend to have the greatest bone density. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, three times a week can increase bone density at any age. Weight bearing exercises, such as riding a bike or walking, combined with strength building exercises, such as weight lifting, are the most beneficial. For an added boost, take your exercise routine outside! The sun's rays are packed with vitamin D, a necessary nutrient for your body to absorb calcium.
6. Calcium, Calcium, Calcium - Bones weaken when you have low levels of vital minerals such as calcium and vitamin D. With age, dietary calcium intake and the body's ability to absorb calcium tend to fall.
It is recommended that premenopausal women and men below the age of 65 maintain a daily calcium intake of 500 mg. Many require up to 1,000 mg per day because their bodies don't properly absorb calcium and most products don't provide the right co-factors for maximum absorption. Menopausal and post menopausal women and men over the age of 65 should increase their daily intake to 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg per day. Adequate amounts of vitamin D are necessary for the body to absorb calcium; therefore I recommend taking 400 mg of vitamin D along with your daily calcium supplement. A supplement derived from organic materials will provide the best source of calcium. I recommend perfectlyhealthy Osteo Plus™ to my patients. This product is formulated with nutrient rich black pearl calcium, including co-factors Magnesium Malate, Vitamin C, Vitamin D-3, Boron and with K2 (menaquinone-7), along with over 19 amino acids to meet your daily requirements for maximum absorption.
Osteoporosis is an unfortunate side effect of aging, but with awareness, preventative measures, and effective treatment, the bone disease can be managed. The quality of your life does not have to decline as you grow older. Contact your physician today and find out your bone health status. It's never too late to take control of your health and quality of life!
About the author
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols. Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit www.perfectlyhealthy.net or www.perfectlyhealthy.com.